“He kinda likes me.”

“He told me He was going to take me home, and make me one of the angels,” Gam told me at dinner once.

He being God–and I loved how she didn’t preface or explain it–like He was obviously right there with us, at the table, needing no introductions. I remember smiling at the realization that she was right.

Then, without missing a beat, she said, “He kinda likes me.”

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Beautiful Feet

I’ve got so many bedtime stories to remember. Some of my favorites thus far. When every day’s a gift, you want to take it all in.

I wonder sometimes what it’s like for someone dying, saying goodnight to those who darken their door. If another morning is the greater gift, or if falling with one last chance to hold hearts and faces is what sings you to sleep.

On my last visit, when I kissed her forehead and said my goodnights, she took my hand and squeezed. I still remember the strength in a weathered grasp that had none left to offer.

Speaking is hard for her; so I cherished the words.

She looked me in the eyes and with beautiful strength, whispered,

“How beautiful are the feet of those who . . . those who . . . ”

She was trying to quote a verse from Isaiah. To thank me for being with her. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

Humor is an easy diversion for tears.

“Gam. I have ugly feet.”

“I know.”

So she fumbles some more.

“How beautiful are the feet  . . . how beautiful are . . . of those who . . .  who . . . ”

She puzzles, and searches my face. “Jenny, why can’t I remember?”

Hearts break a bit.

Frustrated, she raised her voice. “Why can’t I remember? I want to remember!”

I squeeze her hand a bit and began to recite. Slowly. The way you might do when you’re helping a child remember lines for a play. One word at time–making your sounds theirs. She mouths the sounds along with me. Finally remembering.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News.”

She immediately scowls and points a boney finger at me.

“You knew that all along!!”

“I did.”

Instead of being embarrassed, she turns joyful. She throws her hands up in the air and starts singing. “He brings good news! He brings good news! Hallelujah, He brings good news!”

Tears.

“Goodnight, Gam. I have ugly feet.”

“I know you do. But I’m still glad you came.”

So am I.

——

Isaiah 52:7

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger bringing good news,
 breaking the news that all’s well, proclaiming good times, announcing salvation, telling Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ 

Voices! Listen! Your scouts are shouting, thunderclap shouts, shouting in joyful unison. They see with their own eyes God coming back to Zion. Break into song! Boom it out, ruins of Jerusalem: ‘God has comforted his people! He’s redeemed Jerusalem!’


God has rolled up his sleeves . . . Everyone, from one end of the earth to the other, sees him at work, doing his salvation work.”

–The Message

Are you going to cry at my funeral?

A few weeks ago, Gam was talking to Pastor Mike.

“Are you going to cry at my funeral?”

“Pat–I don’t cry.”

“Well you’d better. I want tears. Lots of tears.”

“Pat, I’m not much of a cryer.”

Gam scowls and points a finger.

“Now you listen to me. If you don’t cry at my funeral, I’m going to jump right out of that box and kick you in the shins.”

Why Sh*@#! is my Grandma’s Favorite Word

On a lighter note . . .

Even in the hospital, Gam is Gam.

My sweet cousin Becky gave me the run down on an awful (and awfully funny) evening in the hospital last night.

“Becky,” Gam asked. “Does Chad know that I like to say shit?”

“Um…yeah. He does.”

She turns to Chad–Becky’s husband.

“Chad, you know that I say shit?”

“Gam–come on. Everyone knows you say shit.”

Gam thinks for a moment.

“Well I just think it’s the most wonderful word. I mean think about it. There’s nothing that will get your point across quite like shit. ”

I imagine Becky and Chad looking at each other–half rolling their eyes, half laughing.

Gam keeps going.

“It fits every situation. Try it. Give me a situation where shit wouldn’t fit.”

“Ok,” Chad offers. “The nurses.”

Gam shakes her head. “No, something bad.”

“Ok. Your cancer.”

“Oh, shit!”

Apparently this went on for quite some time. Becky and Chad spouting off situations and circumstances; Gam demonstrating how shit can be perfectly applied and emphatically stated to get your point across just right. All of them laughing hysterically.

“There’s just something that happens when you say it,” she sighed. “It releases something–makes you feel better. I think it might be my favorite word.”

Then there was the bed.

They have beds in hospitals now that inflate and vibrate periodically to prevent hospice guests from getting bedsores. At one point, she leaned in close to Chad and whispered, “Heeeyyy…before you leave tonight, you might want to ask about taking one of these home for your house.”

Gam winked big.

Chad laughed.

“Gam–Becky and I don’t need one of those.”

“Oh that’s right. You’re young. You don’t need a fancy bed.”

And then there was the oxygen mask.

They had Gam hooked up to all kinds of breathing machines. She ended up separating the tube from the mask and “smoking it.”

“What?” she said in response to funny looks from the nurses. “It’s my peace pipe!”

Cricket Cricket Cricket

“Oh come on. Let me have a little fun here.”

Beck told me the nurses keep commenting on her–how much they love her, what a riot she is. “Oh everyone just loves your grandmother here.”

How could they not?

I doubt the nurses have ever seen someone with such spunk and such a cheerful attitude in such a shitty time.

(That’s right. I said it. I learn from the best. )

Leftovers

Last time I was in PA, Uncle Harry and Aunt D brought over dinner from Pinocchio’s, Gam’s favorite pizza place.

But she doesn’t get pizza. She gets a tuna hoagie (or sub for you Colorado people). She’s convinced that Pinocchio’s has special tuna. And never wants to hear it when I tell her that all tuna comes out of a can.

“Gam, it’s all the same. I could make you one of those.”

“No you couldn’t. This tuna is white, and sweet, and they’re the only people who have it.”

Anyway. She saved half of her hoagie for lunch the next day. And this is what she said as she unwrapped it.

“Did you happen to see your Uncle Harry eyin’ my sandwich last night?”

“No, why?”

She looks up snidely.

“Oh, he was. And I said to him, ‘up yours.’

“Gam!”

“I only said it with my eyes. And it’s the only reason I have this beautiful half a sandwhich here for my lunch. Chess.”

Sigh.

What happened to your boobs?

“Jenny, you’re not very big, are you?”

“What?”

“Your boobs. You don’t really got ’em.”

“Thanks Gam.”

“So what’s wrong with you?”

“Pardon?”

“Your mother has them. Your aunt has them. I’ve got bozooms.”

“Bozooms?”

“As a matter of fact I think everyone in your whole family’s got bozooms–‘cept you and your sister.”

[Cricket Cricket Cricket]

“So, what happened to you?”

“I have no idea Gam.”

“Oh well! You’ll have to use your legs. You’ve got nice legs.”

Hot Date.

Gam went on a date last night.

Yum.

With a younger guy.

To Friendly’s.

(And to then to McDonalds, because they have the best hot fudge sundaes, apparently.)

I kept my comments to myself.

Gam hasn’t seen her friend Joe for one of their famous “fireside chats” since she got diagnosed.

“Joe, wait till you see me,” she told him.  “I’ve lost so much weight. My pants are fallin’ off. I can’t walk straight. And my face looks like a broomstick.”

So he picked her up at the door and told her that her face, in fact, does not look like a broomstick. And left her pants out of the discussion. Good man.

“We laughed, and laughed,” Gam said. “Boy did it feel good to laugh.”

It always feels good to laugh–and even better to hear her say it. If that’s the case, she can keep up this dating thing.